Few would argue against the fact that the heart of any RPG is its story. The year of 2007 saw not only some fresh and original new tales, but some fine-tuning to some formally lesser polished epics. Take up sword and shield and venture with us into the best stories of 2007.
Final Fantasy Tactics was a rare gem. Most spin-off titles don't hold a candle to the original series. Be it a change of mechanics, elements, or simply a weaker development team, spin-offs are typically weaker than the main series. This was not true of Final Fantasy Tactics. One thing it did lack in 1997 was a solid translation.
Fast forward ten years to 2007. Final Fantasy Tactics was finally released again, this time for the PlayStation Portable as Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. While this version had a myriad of technical issues, one thing it did receive is a true and worthy translation for the first adventure into Ivalice. The translation has been so improved that it was almost like playing a new game. Aspects that were hinted and guessed by fans are now clear as crystal. The use of 14th and 15th century English also brings alive a world distant from ours.
With this new translation, the true Zodiac Brave Story can finally be told. It is a deep, rich story of the strife to save Ivalice. Each faction has their own agenda, but which one is the right one? Ramza Beoulve believes none of them truly understand what it will take to save Ivalice from itself. He embarks on a quest of understanding instead of conquest. Branded a traitor and a heretic, Ramza must find the truth about the Zodiac Brave stones before it's too late.
This tale moves along at a perfect pace, spanning well over sixty hours of play without ever feeling like it's dragging the player along. The expanded information available makes nearly everything completely whole. It's a timeless tale without slipping into clichés. A story everyone should know and no one should forget.
The secret to Mass Effect's amazing story isn't so much in the story itself, but in the way it's told. The game's creator, Bioware, has long been renowned for its ability to tell complex political stories, but Mass Effect takes video game storytelling to a level far beyond anything seen before. Everything the protagonist, Commander Shepard, says is decided by the player during interactive cutscenes that are often as fluid as a movie. In that way the player drives the story forward, developing the main character in whichever way he chooses. Amazingly, Mass Effect actually comes off as something of a character story, as Commander Shepard and his relationships with his crew, allies, and even his adversaries are all central to the plot. While character stories are not uncommon, rarely does the player have as much control over the protagonist as in Mass Effect.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3's story is why many claim video game as art. From the first opening video to the final rolling of the credits, the player is unable to withstand being sucked into the crazy vortex that is the Persona universe. While a certain suspension of belief is required in any sort of fiction, Persona 3 ewaves together the fantastic with the mundane so well a player could feel as if stepping into this world is not only plausible, but desirable. The characters each have a distinct personality and the writers did a fantastic job. The personalities are so well defined it's literally impossible not to sympathize with both their every day lives as well as the extraordinary situations they are placed in. If Persona 3 was a book, it could have been a best seller, but it's even better as a video game.
by Mikel Tidwell, Adriaan den Ouden, Anna Marie Neufeld